Lockdown With My Family in Southsea: Day 64, Enter the Ninja

Local parent, researcher and writer, Maddie Wallace, continues her daily diary describing the experience first, of self-isolating, and now of being in lockdown with her children in Southsea. We’re at Day 64, and Maddie’s kids are playing a game they like to call ‘ninja training’. Will Maddie’s fight or flight mode kick in?

This is day five of consistent productivity. I don’t know what happened but it’s working and I’m getting things done. Not big things, but my energy levels are rising, my pounding heart and tight chest are reducing, I feel a bit more like my old self and I can decide what to make for dinner without agonising over it for half an hour.

I’m setting an earlier alarm to get up so that I can do yoga, (which is really my own combination of yoga, Pilates and physio exercises for my back). I’ve managed to trick my brain into enjoying this by pretending I’m only going to do one stretch, just to wake up, and then. . .  oh no, I’ve accidentally gone into down dog, might as well do some cat stretches too, why not a bridge, a warrior, a triangle and a tree. What’s that brain? You don’t like exercise? Really? Because I’ve noticed you’re resisting less each day. This may or may not last, but every day of it is a blessing after the last few weeks.

My children are also behaving, and by behaving I just mean they’re acting in a normal, age appropriate way, which also includes minor misbehaving. That’s what children do. A’s meltdowns have significantly subsided to occasional outbursts which gives me more headspace. S and Z are getting up when I wake them up and doing their schoolwork. I read another chapter of my text on propaganda in the garden by getting A to dig up all the weeds and count them as she piled them up at my feet. Then we counted them backwards into the garden waste bag and talked about how maths is a language too, it just represents amounts and quantities instead of concepts and names.

‘If I live to a hundred, will I be nocturnal?’ asked A, counting the weeds again. ‘Because you said my bedtime can be half an hour later after my next birthday, so by the time I’m one hundred, can I stay up all night? Hey, there’s a weed missing!’

Okay, so maths also represents concepts too. FFS.

One of the things the kids are doing which is still driving me round the bend is ‘Ninja Training’. S and Z have been doing this since they were tiny, and now they’ve got A in on the action too. Being a Ninja, (not in the real world, just in our house), involves sneaking around and surprising your victim. It’s a lot more like The Pink Panther than it is Crouching Tiger; they’re not interested in finesse – they just find it hilarious to make me jump.

Normally this would be a minor inconvenience, but when you’re coming off the back of six weeks of anxiety, heart palpitations and malfunctioning adrenaline responses to minor issues, the last thing you need is someone stealthily following behind you, giving you the eerie feeling something is there which you can’t see in your peripheral vision, and then jumping out on you from a dark corner or behind a door. Thankfully, Z and A are useless Stealth Ninjas because they can’t stop giggling, which gives them away. Plus, they always do the same things and hide in the same places, reasoning that if it worked once it will work again. S is the true master of Stealth. He can creep silently, knows all the creaky floorboards, is expert at anticipating which way you’ll look over your shoulder so he can duck to the other side, and can make himself invisible in shadows.

‘Listen sugar,’ I said, at eleven o’clock in the evening after his latest attack. ‘I get that this is funny. I used to do it to my mum all the time. It’s hilarious when you’re the one jumping out. But I’m having some issues with getting my fight or flight response under control at the moment, and this isn’t helping.’

‘Don’t worry, Mumatron,’ he replied. ‘With a bit more training, you’ll be a master.’

Sigh. Luckily, my new, improved productive routine includes a warm bath with lavender bubbles before bed, so I did manage to calm my heart and sleep in the end. That was after yet another debate with Z about why he should have to turn his console off ten minutes after our agreed wind down time.

‘This is so stupid! I don’t need wind down time before bed,’ he whined, throwing himself on the bed.

It is, I’m informed, ‘really unkind’ of me to expect him to turn off a game when he’s in the middle of playing, even though he’s fully aware of the agreed time – and that he’s exceeded it. What if he wins? Then what?

Yes, then what?

Absolutely nothing. You win a game sunshine, the game ends, nothing in the world changes, and it’s still bedtime.


Maddie is sharing her lockdown experiences every day on S&C – you can find each day’s diary and all of Maddie’s previous articles for S&C here.

Image by Peggy_Marco from Pixabay.

S&C is managed and operated by a small team who work on a voluntary and freelance basis to run our website, social media and engage with local residents and communities. Like all independent news providers in the UK, we’ve been hit hard by the pandemic and are currently seeking funding to survive.

If you want to find out more about the challenges facing local independent news: visit the #SaveIndependentNews campaign website, get involved with S&C, donate, and help us spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. And if you want to know more about us, click here.